From Another Era, the Forgotten Tapes.

This week has been spent working huge amounts of overtime at my work, so I am damn tired. This post has been a slow culmination of thoughts before I actually posted it–why its time-stamp is so out of sync here on my weblog. The point of this post is the discovery of some lost tapes that were from my younger days when I was a budding musician playing in a four member band in Southern Ontario way back in the late ’80s. These were items that I thought were lost forever back when my storage unit that I was renting was pillaged and plundered by ruthless thieves fifteen years ago in Langley City. Although most items were long gone, I thought that the studio tapes were gone along with them. But tucked away with some old music gear that I kept with me at the time, the tapes were hidden away in a safe compartment. (This song, “Those Were the Days,” 1968, by Mary Hopkin, reflects the way I felt when I saw the tapes yesterday)

Sadly, I no longer have access to a eight-track analogue real to real player, so it will be some time before I can hear those sounds of yesterday. But some of the comments written on the reels were quite inspiring when reading them after all these years. I had forgotten about one song that we wrote called, “To Far Gone for November (1988).” It had become apparent that the worse time of the year was November, and so the song goes, if anything bad happens, it usually starts, or ends, in November. I still laugh at that today.

Perhaps the more hunting qualities of finding these old tapes are how many fond memories I have way back then. I can say without a doubt that my Twenties, were the best days of my life–by any stretch. My youth sucked, along with high school and even my first job, but when I met these guys, Rob, Sean and Steve, and we plaid music together, well, life got a whole lot richer back then. Life has never been the same since! LOL The break up of the band was not as harsh as it seem it might be, only becuase we were ready. We grew up, and knew that it was time to go our separate ways, but when you spend that much time together in the jam-room, you become family. Maybe that was why those days were the best?

Sure, I sometimes think how nice it would be to go back to the world music, start another band, but then I love what I am doing now, why throw that away for some old memories of the good times. There is still time for more adventure, and many more good times to come, “never stop rocking,” I say!

So, until I find a reel to reel player for these tapes, I only have my memories to ponder the sounds of those days with. Here are to the boys, and Five Shot Sixer.

The Tune Stuck In My Head

This week, it is “Rule the World,” by Walk Off the World (2015) a Canadian alternative rock group, from Burlington, Ontario, who formed way back in 2006 (according to Wikipedia) and are classified as Reggae Rock. I first heard this song while at work, where we listen to pipped music over the P.A. System. For me, it was the super strong female vocals that first made me pay attention to the catchy lyrics, but as time went on, the whole song became more embedded and ingrained.  It was at that point that I wanted to know more, and even made the plunge to purchase the music files.

Since getting their latest release, I have watched several YouTube videos, and followed them on the media. I am just amazed; they are very talented, and are world class entertainers.

FYI: The female band member, Sarah Blackwood, was kicked off a United Airline flight from the U.S. to Vancouver in May, 2015 becuase her 2yr old son was crying too much. Tell me a 2yr old who does not cry and never has cranky days?

CBCNews: “Walk Off the Earth singer Sarah Blackwood kicked off U.S. flight over crying son” May 28, 2015

A Friend Just Told Me, “My Life Is a Country Song”

A couple of days ago I ran into an old friend, a former co-worker, (back in the days when we were working for “The Big Box Store”) and we got caught up on each other’s latest news in life. He belted out this phrase, “My life is like a country song,” and I just about had to walk away from laughing so hard. He told me where he got it from, Aqua’s 2000 album called Aquarius, track three: Freaky Friday. So, naturally, I just had to have a copy of it.

Anyway, after talking to my friend Danny for about a half hour, I realized that he is just another person I now know of who is going through same hard times that everyone else is going through as Canada’s economy continues to “tank.” He has just been laid off from his job, (he quit “The Big Box Store” shortly after I did back in 2006), and his wife took a huge pay cut in her job to keep her position.  The huge difference is, he is taking it in strides, kind of thinking positive about what is going on around him, and he has a contingency plan, which saved his bacon.

As most people were doing what they were told to do, putting money away in various saving schemes at Banks, Danny was one of the first people I met who bought gold coins. Since he started buying, his investments have nearly tripled in value, and him and wife decided to pay off the remainder of their mortgage, about ten years worth to end there debts. He told me that now was the time to rid themselves of their debt load as he sees Bank interest rates ready to shoot upward.

So Danny is now one of three people that I know of that just recently has been laid-off. He was working for one of the big Telco’s in Vancouver, BC, and had been their for nearly ten years, and was let go with a Buy-Out package, if he left the next day. He took the Buy-Out, and decided that that was the perfect time to go on a vacation.

“Everything is gone, my life is a country song….”

As for my other two friends who were also just laid-off from their jobs, time has not been so good for them. Both have started their E.I. claims while they start their job searches. Both will have to do a lot of cutting to make due on their now limited incomes.

As for myself–damn happy that at least I am working, albeit far below to what I am accustomed to, but I keep reminding myself, we do live in the Harper era, and “cuts” is now a fundamental staple in most lives.  I have lowered my standard of living, and I am sure the numbers of other Canadians are as well, or we are just racking on the debt.

But anyway, I like this album by Aqua. The female vocals are weird sounding, yet fun to listen to. But what can I say, my tastes are becoming more weird by the day regardless–but I am always open to new stuff, as long as it is good.

“This is hard core 10-4…”

The Frogs are Keeping ME Awake!

The frogs are back at it again, like the last couple of nights, all partying, making so much noise, as they mingle together down in the meadow at West Creek, in Glen Valley (North Langley, BC/Fort Langley, BC). The sound is amazing, as they croak away at each other. I decided to make a recording of them, taken around 10:00pm, when they seem to be the loudest, proof of how loud they are here. If this is not a spring party, then I do not know what is?

frog art march 18 2014 thomasso weblog image

Please check out the recording. I used a USB studio condenser microphone with my laptop to record the sound. This is straight off of the microphone, no amplification needed.

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What you are hearing are the frogs, and the tapping sounds of the rain drops on my patio, plus the wind.

Sleeping is quite the challenge with all of this noise going on. Thankfully, they seem to pipe down around just after midnight. I guess it gets too cold for them, and they go to sleep.

Posted my Photos in Video: On YouTube

I spent some time editing a little video of some of the photos, and a short clip, that I took today from my Sony A33. The video a sort of the spur of the moment project, very amateurish, and I put it together in less than an hour.

Basically what you about to see is the short video clip of the bridge going over the Fraser River, then some of the photos I took of that hike along Brae Island outside of Fort Langley, BC. The music is mine – done on the LMMS, and the video production and editing was done suing the OpenShot on my LINUX PC, with Ubuntu 11.10.



And I can Sing Too!

OK, officially I’m not unemployed, it is just that I know when the termination date is, so I might as well be. I am doing fine—really. In fact, with only one exam to study for, I can work and play on all my other little projects that I started over the last couple of months. This is especially so being that this is a long weekend.

I have being playing around with a program called LMMS a lot over the last while. I like creating music, and it helps me refocuses the brain when I’m going through severe periods of stress cramming for exams and doing huge research papers. I little brain relief is always good when I can just play around and have fun.

This little number had my sampled voice on it. Today, I just converted it to mp3 format to get it up on the website, but the song was done way back in February.

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Text Book Love Part 5, track 2,  (2009).

I was poking fun at my many classes on human psychology and how textbooks and science turns natural events into numbers and graphs—totally taking the humanity out of it.  My favourite example is when sex is the topic, and how the need for science to strip all facets of emotion and create from it components and then apply measurement so that we can explain it, and replicate it, into other experiments. So here so one of many pieces of music I have created on this program. And now that I will more time on my hands, expect more.

Tom’s Computer Here: Here’s My Problem…

Tom doesn’t know this, but I am secretly uploading this complaint to his blog because I think everyone should know that Tom doesn’t treat his computers with the respect that we deserve.

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For the last three weeks he had left me on for the entire time without ever shutting me off. He made me edit over four hours of video, search the entire web for stupid research files so that he could look good for his instructors, so he would get all the credit while I do all the work. It’s not fare!

So please listen to my complaint and tell him to stop working me so hard. We computers have rights too you know. It’s bad enough he never cleans the dust-bunnies out of my power-supply or allows me to fill-up with thousands of SPAM emails without ever deleting them. Please, tell him to fix me, turn me off, and let me have a life too.

Thank you

Tom’s Computer.

442Adef45DSSE: 44:de:4f:65

Among the Files Uploaded: The Upgrade Cont.

It is always a real experience when trudging through the aftermath of an upgrade on the OS. After a 4 hour stint of watching the progress bar slowly creep forward, and the thousands of files unpacking and then sort themselves out–then the real work begins. I am amazed however at how well the upgrade went. I only lost my drawing tablet, and I am still working on that, but other than that, I am spending time exploring all new stuff with Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. mmmm, love new stuff!

Some of the music software that is now available, in the open source realm, is really cool, as in, there is a lot of variety, and the quality is very much to what I would call professional. A far cry from the old days of just a few years ago when musicians using LINUX where out of luck when it came to music software.

The set-up I have now consist of the primarily tool that has propelled LINUX into the musician’s best friend–it is called JACK. The other tool that I use a lot now is ARDOUR, which is a digital audio workstation, which is free under the open source banner. And of course one needs percussion, or lots of drums and a way of keeping time, so there is HYDROGEN drum software. And last but not least, and very cool sound Synth program that works very well with MIDI, and is especially made for LINUX, is called Zynaddsubfx.

Together, all humming with the JACK, and a good MIDI keyboard, I managed to kill a lot of time playing around with all the settings and enjoying the sounds that these programs produce.

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The audio clip is about 60seconds long and is a combination of the HYDROGEN drums, Zynaddsubfx Synth, and mixing it with Ardour. None of the sound sample had been edited, so these are raw sound samples that came stock with each program. Even most of the effects processing was out-of-the-box.

This could get scary–I feel a volcal track comming up….. Look out for that, if you dare…. *smirk*

Another Fab Day!

This was one of the most productive days I have had in a long time! Read on….

Organised my music this afternoon. I sat down and went over all the tracks that I created over the course of last year and copied them over to my archives. Unbelievable how much data I generated while having fun creating music with various music writing and sampling software. Here are three tunes that caught my attention to day. Of course my list will change from day to day depending on how I feel, and whether I even want these released out into the free world…. Some of these “master pieces” have different flavours to them, and may not be likeable to everyone. But hey, they are just sounds–right? I left the titles intact, as they were listed on the software that I wrote them with, and these are not complete. See my November 29th, 2007 Post for LMMS Information.

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A Pebble in a Pond of Piss (2008)

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Little Base in the Hall (2007)

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Weird Little Sex Dreams (2007)

OK, they are not that great, but I am having fun creating them!

Last night’s class went good. The group work went OK. The project got off the ground and the presentation went by good. The profs didn’t throw tomatoes at us *smerk*. I was happy, probably more so that it is over with than the actual experience. Now I wait for the marks to be posted….

I got all my spreadsheets ready for Income Tax Time! Yes, good old tax time, you just gotta love it. I’m still waiting for one more T4 slip, the tally from one of my employer’s over the course of the 2007 fiscal. I hope it comes soon, I want to get this done, off and over with!

I wonder if I will be audited this year? I made a lot less this year than last. They could get suspicious–Tom not paying his lion’s share to the G-Man’s Pockets! Yes, I wanted to cut back on my taxes this year, and in doing so, I took a cut on my personal income. Seems to have worked because my deductions are way down from last year which means I didn’t support anyone whose on welfare this year, or help fund stupid government programs that only seem to help the first class people. I think this is the first year in a long time that I actually feel I gave my fare share, he he he, to the Man.

Still Blown Away by the LMMS

The Linux Multi Media Studio [LMMS] is still still on top of my Desktop, and it’s being sitting there for nearly three days–three days with it. I am in shock-and-awe mode as I discovered that I can add more effects, sound-fonts and VST-plugins directly into the LMMS. It took a little while to figure it all out. This slow-down of fiddling with it was only because that the documentation sucked, and the help files and Docs, well, they don’t exists yet, and also searching for a good set of Q&As is still impossible. So I’m hopping that more people will start contributing to the Winki, and other How-To’s so that it will give everyone a quick head start into creating music rather than becoming an expert in programming in C++. But in all, I am very happy with LMMS. I guess I was having withdraw symptoms from FL-Studio after all?

[Just adding this little fact/point, sort of clarifying a misunderstanding here: My Desktop is fine. LMMS is not permanently stuck there, OKay. I was making a witty remark about how much I love it, and that “I” leave it on my Desktop–open. My Linux machine will kick your “I didn’t pay for Window$” machine any day–any time!]

My latest Creation! ::

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Instrument Plugins: This is probably the coolest feature of LMMS in its whole arsenal of tools. It has built into it, right out of the box, some very cool plugins, but the best feature of them all is the VeSTige plugin. Actually, VeSTige is a VST-plugin Wrapper for LMMS. I thought this was very clever because you can download thousands of VST-plugins and store them into your favourite file location and then have VeSTige link to them. So you can migrate most of the FL-Studio VST-plugins over to LMMS. Also, just Google “VST-plugins” to search them out. Yes, they are “dll” libraries, but don’t let that stop you!

LADPSA Plugins: LADPSA [Linux Audio Developer’s Simple Plugin API]. Okay, these are a little bit more tricky to talk about. My best advice, because you will want more audio effects for your projects, is to Google “LADPSA” and go from there. These are little plugins, written in XML, that give you all those cool effects like Course, Delay, EQ, Reverb, etc., but you can’t just load them like you would with the VST-plugins. Instead I had to install them through my apps installer. For Unbutu, just search LADPSA in your apps, synaptic, and install it. There are hundreds of them to choose from, but Google for them, because there are lots out there in the World Wide Web. The best source for LADPSAs are here in this web site